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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

EDUCATION IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE         81

treasury. The contribution made to educational progress by
Marcus Aurelius, the next ruler, was more limited but still
considerable. This philosopher in the purple had lived from
childhood on most intimate terms with Greek scholars, and his
main interest, like that of Hadrian, was in the schools of Athens.
With the broadmindedness of a true Stoic, he established in that
city two chairs in each of the four ancient philosophical schools
(not excluding the Epicureans) as well as a special chair of oratory,
and he provided the necessary salaries out of the imperial ex-
chequer. With Hadrian's work thus completed, Athens became
the chief "university" for the Roman world.

The immediate result of this succession of good emperors
interested in education was a keen enthusiasm for learning
throughout the Greek-speaking world. The schools of Greece
and Asia Minor were filled with eager students: all Ionia, as
one rhetorician said at the beginning of the Third Century,
becaxne " a college of learned men." This happy state of matters
reacted on education everywhere and gave an impulse to the work
of the schools which continued to be felt till the Empire fell into
wild disorder with the death of Alexander Severus (235) (who
had continued the work of the Antonines by erecting schools and
establishing bursaries for poor children), and learning became
difficult in the midst of the civil commotions and military
revolutions that accompanied the making and unmaking of
emperors. But even at its best this educational revival lacked
the deep seriousness that would have ensured permanence. Its
choicest product was the mere verbiage of rhetorical display,
based on the ornate and artificial models of Asiatic oratory which
had ousted the severer oratory of the great days of Athens. Not
the scholar or the philosopher, but the rhetorician or " sophist"
was the hero of both schools and public in all parts of the world.
The impression produced in Rome by Adrian of Tyre, whom
Marcus Aurelius appointed to the chair of rhetoric he founded
in Athens, reveals the spirit of the times. Cú He so charmed the
city," says Philostratus, " that he caused even those who were
unfamiliar with the Greek language to wish to hear him. When
the Romans were engaged in celebrating their religious festivals,
it needed but the appearance at the stage-door of the messenger
announcing a recitation by Adrian, and all would jump up, the
senators from their seats and the knights from theirs, and hasten